Monday, January 08, 2007

dis-ease # 1 - a Triptych

"If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed..." ~ David Hockney

The notion/idea/concept of "Art" has been discussed endlessly - some might even say "ad nauseam". Discussions often center around the question, what is Art? or its associate, is it Art?, is it a noun or is it a verb?, maybe both?, is it democratic (art) or is it elitist (Art)?, is it serious or is it frivolous?, should it serve egocentricity or universality?, should it soothe and entertain or should it confront and agitate?, what is good art or what is bad art?, etc., etc., etc.

I don't mean in any way to imply that questions should not be asked or that answers should not be offered. Over the past few years, during which I have been able to concentrate more and more on my personal photography, I have been pondering a wealth of art issues. My "answers" to most of the questions haven't really changed all that much from those of years past - for the most part, they have undergone a bit of fine tuning.

For the record, I have always felt that Art is much better than art...that Art that is "serious" is better than art that is "frivolous"...that Art that agitates is better than art that soothes...that Art that is born of ego but nevertheless connects to the universal is the best Art of all...that art, like religion, that panders to the masses is little more than an opiate that deadens the mind and spirit...that Art that is "difficult" is good and art that is "easy" is bad...and please. please don't tell me that "good" and "bad" are just a matter of "taste".

That said, the one aspect of Art that, more and more, I am subscribing to above all others is the aforementioned quote/opinion by David Hockney.

But, let me add a very important caveat - there is a popular sentiment that Art that is serious, Art that seeks to agitate, Art that goes beyond entertainment must be either "ugly" or "boring", That, in fact, not only is (must) the very object of the camera's gaze always ugly and boring (or trite), but that the resulting photograph will (must) inevitably be joyless (i.e., not entertaining) and pedantic.

To which I respond, "Nuts". I believe that "serious" Art (in this case, Photography, and in this specific case, dis-ease #1) can be both illustrative and illuminating.

I mean "illustrative", not just in the sense of being merely descriptive, but in the fullest sense of being visually entertaining and engaging. Photographs that evidence, on one level, the simple joy of seeing - as in dis-ease # 1.

I mean "illuminating" in the sense of - to be enlightened, as with knowledge - that can come only from being fully engaged in the world around one's self. By" fully engaged", I mean Photography that is not just about people, places and things (the referent) that appeal to the visual senses, but Photography that is also about ideas - thoughts (the connoted) that engage the intellect and the emotions - as in dis-ease # 1.

So I ask, What could be better than a life lived fully engaged?

about the photograph: What is it about man's seemingly basic need/desire for order? ~ Polaroid SLR 680 with 600 series film.


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